Seymour Main Street now has more money available to spend on projects to help improve, protect and grow the downtown.

On Monday, the Seymour Redevelopment Commission approved a request from Main Street President Tom Goecker for $125,000 in new funding.

Of that, $75,000 will support the group’s grant and loan program to fix up downtown buildings, and the other $50,000 will be used to hire a full-time Main Street director.

The money comes from tax increment financing, or TIF, district revenue. The commission has supported the loan and grant program since it began in 2011 to the tune of $150,000, but that money has since been used.

“We’re almost out of all the money you have given us in the past,” Goecker said.

The loan and grant program has been successful in funding more than 36 different projects, some as simple as a new store sign or an awning. Others have been much more costly, including restoring and painting facades and installing new roofs.

“There have been four loans totaling over $28,000, and most of them have been paid back,” Goecker said. “There might be one that is current and still making payments or may have been paid off in the last couple of months.”

Goecker said the redevelopment commission’s $75,000 will be matched by Main Street through proceeds from the sale of the Knights of Pythias building for a total of $150,000 in new funding for the loan and grant program.

Some of the money also will be used for a down payment assistance program that provides 5 percent or up to $10,000 to be used as a down payment for someone wanting to purchase a building, Goecker said.

“They will have to go through a bank and be approved for a loan,” he said.

Main Street will put a lien on the property to make sure the organization receives payment should something happen and the project falls through, Goecker added.

If the owners are in business or own and maintain the building for five years, then the loan is forgiven, he said.

Goecker said there are four or five applications for the loan and grant program awaiting approval from Main Street, and the investment by the redevelopment commission will help make those projects happen.

“In my opinion, it’s been very successful,” Goecker said. “The thing that I like about what I see right now in downtown Seymour is the fact that it has been business driven.

“It has not been a big, huge lump sum, let’s put some lipstick on some stuff and move on,” Goecker said. “These people doing these loans and grants are actually helping downtown business.”

But the process takes time, he added.

“Maybe it takes a little bit longer to see progress, but progress is being made,” he said. “There have been a lot of buildings sold in the last two or three years and are now in various stages of being remodeled and upgraded.

“It doesn’t happen overnight, but it is progressing,” he added.

By hiring a full-time director, something Seymour Main Street has never had before, Goecker said it will allow the organization to better coordinate programs and events and serve the downtown.

He said the $50,000 needed will be an annual request from the redevelopment commission, but Main Street also will contribute funds to help pay the director’s salary and benefits.

“We feel like things have grown and have gotten to the point where a full-time director is needed, and we feel this may be the best way to fund that position,” he said.

The director will work closely with the mayor’s office, the chamber of commerce and the visitor center, he said.

Main Street is looking to find a location for an office, possibly in the future Seymour Museum building, within city hall, in the Community Agency Building or in a downtown storefront, Goecker said.

Commissioner Kevin Gabbard said he has been impressed with Main Street’s work over the past few years in the downtown.

He also said the redevelopment commission’s goals include investing 20 percent of TIF funds on downtown revitalization.

“I think this fits right in with what we want to do,” he said of the request. “I think they’ve been really good with the money we’ve given them in the past, and they’ve not been in here in a while requesting money.”

By the numbers

$125,000: Total new funding for Seymour Main Street from the Seymour Redevelopment Commission

$75,000: Will support the group’s grant and loan program to fix up downtown buildings

$50,000: Will be used to hire a full-time Main Street director

$150,000: Aamount the redevelopment commission has contributed to Seymour Main Street in the past.

36-plus: Number of projects that have been completed downtown through Seymour Main Street’s grant and loan program

$28,000-plus: Amount of loans that have been made through the program

At a glance

Submit a formal application to Seymour Main Street Grant Program, P.O. Box 1001, Seymour, IN, 47274 or Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce, 105 S. Chestnut St., Seymour, IN 47274.

If you have any questions about the application process, contact Jeff Nolting, Seymour Main Street economic restructuring committee chairmain, at 812-524-7933 or Chamber President Tricia Bechman at 812-522-3681.

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.